By Alexander Germanis
The family is the fundamental building block of any society. Within the family unit originates the strength, resilience, drive, and faith to keep a village, city, or country functioning properly. But the power of the family runs so much deeper. The family is a system of support, love, tolerance, patience, and sacrifice that can see its members through any and every trial of life. That is why the family is the template upon which Villas of Holly Brook is based.
Still In Each Other’s Lives
As long as senior communities have had a stigma attached to them, family members who move their loved ones into senior communities have likewise been thought of negatively. Neither should be the case, says Keli Miller, Executive Director of Villas of Holly Brook/Reflections Memory Care on Towanda Barnes Road in Bloomington. Finding help for a loved one in need of care is not an easy thing to do and taking that step is not an easy one to make.
“The reality is, most family members are still working and most of the time their loved one needs more care than they are able to give,” Keli states. “So they start looking for other options.”
Moving a loved one into assisted living or a memory care community does not mean the family does not still need to fill vital roles, she adds. Right from the start, a family needs to put in the effort. Not all communities are created equal, so it’s important to research what community will be the best fit.
Once they have moved in, the family’s role must remain an active one. “Calls, cards, and visits are so important to the new resident adjusting,” Keli insists. “The new resident should feel the attention from their family.”
“Be a part of the community where the resident lives,” she advises. “Come have lunch with them; come do an activity with them. Pick them up and surprise them even if you just take them for a ride.”
The Family Just Got Bigger
Looking at a community like Villas as an expansion of one’s family can help in the transition to assisted living or memory care. Keli encourages her staff to get to know the families of their residents in order to strengthen the trust. “It isn’t easy trusting someone that you don’t know to take care of someone that means the world to you,” she admits. “The more we get to know the family the better we will know the resident and this then will build the trust that the family needs. The families are vital in the success of the resident living with us. We truly become one big family.”
In order to help build and maintain that trust, staff training is not a one-time thing but an ongoing effort starting from day one. This is especially true for the staff entrusted with residents in Reflections Memory Care. Needs change from day to day, so training must also change on a daily basis.
As the Villas is part of a larger network of communities it removes the fear of being short-staffed during crises of health, like that experienced with COVID-19. “And the staff help because they want to,” Keli states. “They understand the residents need and deserve the best care possible. So not only are we a family in our own communities, we are family company-wide, and that has been so prevalent during this pandemic. I am so proud to be a part of this company.”
All Needs Met
From the moment a child is born, a family sees to meeting all the needs of its newest member. But as life progresses, a true family never gives up on those needs. At Villas of Holly Brook continuing to fulfill those needs is their mission.
Beginning with food, each resident is ensured well-balanced meals monitored by a dietician. Communal dining is available and social activities are still very much on the menu, albeit in more inventive ways than usual. While keeping Bingo and exercising alive, Villas’ activity director has encouraged one-on-one visits and introduced hallway activities.
In true familial fashion, the residents reciprocate. “The residents and their families have done so much to encourage our staff with treats and lunches and cards of encouragement,” Keli shares. “As hard as everything has been, I feel like we have all—staff, residents, and families—pulled together to lift each other up.”
One’s spirit needs uplifting as much as one’s mood, of course. “I don’t think that any of us would have come through what we have gone through here with COVID-19 without faith,” Keli acknowledges. Beside a pastor coming to pray over the building at the start of the pandemic, several residents hold daily prayer together, petitioning for the wellbeing of all the residents.
“We have weekly Bible studies,” Keli adds. “The strength of our faith and our love for God is strong here. God gets all the glory and we as a community know that whether things are great or we are struggling that God is our focus and we will make it through.”
A Calling and a Blessing
“Healthcare in a long-term care community is definitely one of the hardest jobs I have ever loved,” Keli shares. “We have the honor of taking care of some of the most amazing people. The knowledge and the life stories we get to hear are things I wouldn’t trade for anything. My residents are amazing and I am so proud to be part of a team that is passionate about taking care of the residents and making sure they have the best quality of life for the rest of their life. Are we perfect? No, but our love is sincere. This is home to our residents and they have invited us in to not just take care of them, but to be part of their family and what a true blessing and honor that is.”
“Family, faith, and friends—these aren’t just words, this is truly who we are,” Keli proudly declares. “Our family is not just the residents—it is their whole family. When one family member has something great we celebrate with them; when one family member is struggling, we encourage them and lift them up; when we lose a family member, we mourn. We are sincere in our love and care. This is not just a job for us, this is a calling and this is our passion.”
As Keli says, anyone can share in the good times, but it’s family who is willing to be there through both the good and the bad. For all its residents and its staff, family is what Villas of Holly Brook strives to be. To them, family is not just important. To them, family is everything.
Villas of Holly Brook/Reflections Memory Care are located at 1815 Towanda Barnes Road in Bloomington, IL. We are a part of the Villas of Holly Brook network of communities, which spans 32 locations in Illinois, Florida, and Indiana. Please visit us at www.villasofhollybrook.com.
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